By Blake Eaton
I can’t help but notice lately that my friends and I talk an awful lot about the end of our undergraduate careers. After four years and countless fond memories, we are mere weeks away from graduation. No more college classes. No college finals. No more college days.
The more I think about it, though, the more I realize that graduation is not just the end of college. Graduation is a time to look forward even as I reflect on my experiences. The goal of education is not earning a diploma, but preparing for life after that education, and UT Dallas has given me the best preparation I could possibly asked for.
I learned so much at UT Dallas just by going to class and staying engaged. My professors always challenged me to dig deeper in search of understanding—they’re still challenging me even as I complete my final semester! More importantly, my professors went beyond the bare essentials necessary to pass the next test and brought the subject matter to life. When a professor mentioned a Supreme Court Justice’s passion for hiking or told the story of a poor family’s chronic health problems, those details humanized the abstract issues of constitutional law and public health. My professors inspired me to keep searching beyond the syllabus. I loved learning long before I went to college, but UT Dallas has done an excellent job of fostering that love.
I didn’t spend all my time at UT Dallas in the classroom, though. Far from it! The university’s rich array of extracurricular activities kept me plenty busy and taught me many of the skills I need as an aspiring lawyer. Moot Court helped me discover the nuances of legal reasoning and turned me into a better public speaker. My time screening cases for the Innocence Project of Texas confirmed my love for the law and my abiding interest in criminal defense. The Archer Fellowship in Washington, DC, gave me the chance to meet so many amazing people from across the UT System, not to mention the many brilliant lawyers and politicians who work in the nation’s capital. In the constant hustle of college classes, one can forget that a very different, very real world exists just beyond campus grounds. The internships and work opportunities I found as a UT Dallas student helped me catch a glimpse of that world. I am excited to become a part of it very soon!
More than any classroom trivia or internship, though, I will remember the friends I made at UT Dallas. From the moment I walked into my first class during freshman year, I found a group of people who were just as academically engaged and hard-working as I am. They pushed me to work harder and challenge myself intellectually, but they also supported me emotionally when I felt overwhelmed. In a few short months, we all will scatter across the country, but I will keep in close touch with the people who shaped my UT Dallas experience.
Graduation shouldn’t be seen as the end of an era. It is a new beginning. It may be time to turn the page, to leave UT Dallas, but it is also an opportunity to discover the endless possibilities that stretch out before me. It is time to enter the next exciting chapter of my life. Thank you, UT Dallas. It’s been a blast.